Let’s talk about something that’s been making waves across the Barbican Estate: those pesky service charges that keep creeping up. I’m talking about those fees property owners have to pay for things like maintenance, repairs, and all the amenities on the estate. It’s no secret that these charges have been going up like crazy, and that’s got everyone worried about what it means for the value of their properties. 

First off, we have to understand what these service charges are all about. They’re basically the money residents have to cough up to keep the place running smoothly. You know, the lovely folks who take care of the gardens, the cleaning crews who make sure everything’s spick and span, and even the concierge who’s there to greet you with a smile. All those services come at a cost, and that’s where these charges come in.

Now, here’s the kicker: these charges have been going up faster than a rocket! We’re talking inflation, rising electricity costs, and the need for repairs and refurbishments. It’s like a never-ending money pit, and property owners are feeling the pinch. Imagine having to fork out more and more each year just to keep your place in tip-top shape. It’s enough to make anyone’s wallet cry out in pain.

But here’s the thing, it’s not just about the money. These higher service charges might be on the verge of putting a dent in the affordability of the Barbican Estate. Think about it: if you’re looking to buy a property or even rent one, you’ve got to consider all the expenses involved. Mortgage payments, council taxes, and now these hefty service charges. It’s enough to make you think twice about living in the Barbican Estate.

And it’s not just the cost that’s the problem. It’s the perception of value and return on investment. The Barbican Estate has always been seen as this unique and sought-after place to live but if the service charges keep skyrocketing, potential buyers and investors might start questioning if it’s worth the hefty price tag. Nobody wants to feel like they’re not getting bang for their buck, right?

And let’s not forget about the rental market. Landlords, bless their hearts, have their own struggles with these rising charges. They’re faced with the choice of either swallowing the costs themselves or passing them on to their tenants. Guess what happens when they choose the latter? Yep, you got it—rental prices shoot up! And that’s not good news for anyone looking to rent in the Barbican Estate. Higher rents mean less demand, longer vacancy periods, and a whole lot of stress for landlords and tenants alike. It’s like a never-ending cycle of doom.

So, what can be done to tackle this issue? Well, it’s all about finding that delicate balance between cost and the amenities and services provided. Maybe it’s time for some open and transparent communication about where all that money is going. Let residents have a say in how the service charge funds are allocated. After all, they’re the ones paying for it, so they should have a say, right?

And let’s not forget about the power of resident engagement. When people feel involved and part of the decision-making process, they’re more likely to understand and accept the need for higher charges. It’s all about building trust and making sure everyone feels like they’re getting their money’s worth.

In the end, the risk of higher service charges on property values in the Barbican Estate is a real concern. It’s not just about the money—it’s about the affordability, the perception of value, and the impact on the rental market. But with some open communication, resident engagement, and a dash of creativity, maybe we can find a way to keep the Barbican Estate shining bright without breaking the bank.

Londoners spend less than half a week in the office 

On the commercial front, employees in London are now winning the war on work in the office, spending most of their week out of the office. A study by research group Centre for Cities established that people spent an average of 2.3 days in the office per week, down from 3.9 pre-pandemic numbers. A post-brexit, labour-shortage London has clearly given employees the negotiatory upper hand.

LOCAL ESTATE AGENTS’ COMMENTS

SALES

Marco Fugaccia at Hurford Salvi Carr: How quickly we have progressed into spring and with summer almost upon us we are experiencing more activity in both the sales and rental sectors. Whilst sales pricing continues to remain sensitive, we have certainly seen an increase in buyer registration and have agreed some outstanding transactions. It is evident that “best in class” still attracts interest! 

www.hurford-salvi-carr.co.uk 

Nick Scott at Scott City: Barbican buyers are still keen and mortgage deals are looking better with many lenders offering lower deposit deals until the end of this year. The confidence of buyers is returning especially as we see more people returning to a five-day working week. We’ve experienced more activity in the last month than we have over the previous six. Thinking of selling please contact us for an UpToDate valuation – 020 7600 0026 or property@scottcity.london

www.scottcity.co.uk

Nicola Lee at Nicola Lee Limited:  Sales have been strong, and with a shortage of larger flats now – which include Type 20s and Type 21s etc – we are happy to take on new instructions. We’ve seen various types of flat being snapped up almost immediately, especially in prime locations (overlooking gardens, the lake, etc).

We continue to be busy valuing flats for the purpose of lease extension – free of charge – as residents have understood the urgency in doing so; as reported here in Barbican Life, and further to the informative event that we hosted last year, time is running short on the lease and extending now will help when it comes to selling in the future.

Now is always a good time to get ready for selling later; you are always welcome to pop in to talk through selling your property.

www.nicolalee.co.uk 

Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks: We have had a busy quarter, with 7 sales agreed in the Barbican, we have a good number of enquires all serious, but we now have a lack of stock, in particular large one beds in the range £800,000 to £1,000,000 and a severe lack of larger Tower apartments and larger houses. With the IMF now predicting growth in the UK, we see demand increasing.

www.hamiltonbrooks.co.uk 

Tina Evans at Frank Harris:  The last quarter has been one of our busiest for many years, with the sale of a fabulous Barbican tower penthouse, and a few unusual flats which we have sold “off market”.  Demand still outstrips supply on the estate with a constant shortage of Barbican Tower flats, we have broken records on the prices achieved for a number of our recent sales for all types of flats.  Please call Tina or her team for more information and a free market appraisal.

www.frankharris.co.uk 

LETTINGS

Marco Fugaccia at Hurford Salvi Carr: The rental sector continues a very healthy path with corporate demand ever increasing and we are preparing for a busy summer with rental values at an all-time high.

Nick Scott at Scott City:  The outlook is very positive for the summer of 2023. Demand for rental properties will remain extremely high and prices will reflect the shortage of property available. We’ve experienced more activity in the last month so are very short of Barbican apartments. If you’re considering renting your property please contact us on 020 7600 0026 or property@scottcity.london. James Hendle  

Lindsay Lee at Nicola Lee Limited: As anticipated the low level of stock has ensured that rents have remained buoyant, and we’ve had no trouble finding tenants as properties become available, so if you are thinking of renting now, or even if you would just like to talk through doing so, feel free to get in touch – we are now entering a busy rental period.

If government rental reforms go through, this will most likely lead to a further lack of stock – but there’s no time like the present to find a tenant for your rental flat.

Glen Cook of Hamilton Brooks:  It’s the same message as last quarter, virtually no flats to let, we need more stock!


Published in the summer 2023 issue of Barbican Life magazine.